Hackers are gearing up for the big holiday shipping season with a new collection of email that are just too good not to click on.
“We see an uptake in things posing as Amazon and eBay receipts — and airline flight confirmations, based around the fact that people are traveling more and are expecting these confirmations to come in,” said Troy Gill, senior security analyst at AppRiver, a Florida-based email service provider.
Some users refuse to believe that the emails are malicious, Gill said.
“They’ll actually try to go into quarantine and try to release the email,” he said.
“Even to me, as a trained professional, seeing these all the time, some look identical to the ones you get from the actual vendor. However, I don’t think any common transactions from Amazon would ever have attachments at all. As a customer, I’ve never seen it, and I make purchases from them all the time.”
Gill recommended that companies warn their employees not to open attachments from major shopping or travel sites.
“If you get an email with a Word attachment, don’t open it, just go to the site, log into your account, and all the transaction history is right there readily available.” he said. “It’s always a good idea to go right to the horse’s mouth.”
So far this month, AppRiver has quarantined more than 600,000 email messages with the subject line “Your Amazon Order Has Dispatched (#3digits-7digits-7digits)” and a return address of “amazon.co.uk.”
The attached Word document has a macro that installs a Trojan dropper that creates a process named “SUVCKSGZTGK.exe” and the dropper then installs a keylogger that harvests banking information, email logins, and social media accounts.
“Hopefully, by default, macros are disabled in Word but many people do have them enabled,” Gill said.
Another email campaign, with nearly 160,000 messages quarantined over the past few days, has the subject “Your order on Amazon.com” and a return address of “amazon.com” and a very realistic look, with actual Amazon graphics.
This campaign attempts to get users to click on links that to go compromised WordPress sites that download a file named “invoice1104.pdf[dot]scr” which is also a Trojan dropper.
“As we commonly see with this these types of campaigns, the payload can be changed out by the malware distributors so this dropper could pull down some other form of malware in the future,” said Gill.
Gill also recommended that companies train employees to immediately report suspicious emails.
“I feel that a lot of people are just, ‘out of sight out of mind’,” he said. “If they don’t see any immediate impact from it, it’s really not a concern, or maybe they don’t want to mention to their employer that they actually opened an attachment. That kid of mentality, I think, is far to common.”
This is a particular problem because, according to a recent security report by Google, about 20 percent of hijacked accounts are accessed within 30 minutes of a hacker getting the login info.
After getting in, the hackers often change the password to lock out the legitimate user, search for information about other accounts they can hijack, and use their access to send personalized phishing emails to the victim’s friends and colleagues, said Elie Bursztein, Google’s Anti-Abuse Research Lead, in the report.
“I’ve seen malware spread that way on numerous occasions,” said AppRiver’s Gill. “Of course I’ll be more likely to open an email from my friend Scott rather than some random made-up name.”